Intel will officially launch the latest version of its Classmate PC reference design at the 2009 CES in Las Vegas. This version of the Classmate PC laptop will include tablet and touch-screen features and allow Intel and its OEM partners to offer two different types of low-cost laptops for school children. This version of the Intel Classmate PC will include an Intel Atom processor and support for Microsoft Windows XP as well as several Linux operations system flavors, including Ubuntu.
is preparing to roll out the latest version of its Classmate PC design, which
now includes tablet and touch-screen features along with an Atom processor, at
the 2009 CES expo in Las Vegas.
The latest incarnation of the Intel Classmate PC now gives
Intel and its OEM partners a choice of two different laptop designs for school
children. In addition to the new convertible tablet reference design, the Intel
Classmate PC still offers the original clamshell laptop design.
began showing off the new design at its Developer Forum in August
actual Classmate PCs based on the new specifications will not be available
until the 2009 CES, which starts the week of Jan. 5. All of the Intel Classmate
PC designs will now use a single-core Atom N270 chip running at 1.66GHz.
For images of the Classmate PC, click here.
The convertible Classmate PC will also support a version of Microsoft
Windows XP that had been specifically designed for this type of laptop. The
Intel design also supports more than a dozen Linux operating systems, including
a version of Ubuntu.
Unlike the type of laptop created by the non-profit One
Laptop Per Child project, Intel created a reference design for a low-cost
laptop for school children that a local OEM could manufacture and sell. While
this is one way to supply a number of low-cost notebooks to children, it also
allows the local OEM, as well as Intel, a way to make a profit.
Earlier this year, Intel
severed its ties to the OLPC project after a public dispute
Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates,
said the Intel Classmate serves two purposes for Intel. While these types of
laptops have the potential to help school children connect to the Internet and
expand their educational opportunities, it also allows Intel to introduce
itself and its products to potentially millions of new customers in emerging
"It fits pretty well with [Intel's] Atom strategy, where you
get reasonable performance for reasonable low cost and low power," said Kay. "The
primary goal of Classmate is to offer the current, non-PC users who are
sometimes referred to as the -Second Billion.' A lot of people in China,
India and elsewhere
are just coming on right now and some of them are price conscious and they want
something simple. There is also the school angle."
the start of 2008, a number of governments, notably Portugal and Venezuela,
have contracted with Intel and local OEMs for laptops
based on the
Classmate PC design. Portugal
announced a 500,000-laptop deployment and about a third of those PCs have been
delivered to schools.
While the convertible Classmate PC design retains most of
the features of the clamshell design, such as the 8.9-inch display, a handle
that students can use to carry the notebook and a waterproof keyboard, Intel
added some additional technology.
Intel incorporated an accelerometer into the Classmate PC
design that will allow for the rotation of the screen image when using the
tablet feature. Intel also adopted a single-touch capability with this version
of the design that allows a student to use either a finger or a stylus pen. At
the same time, the Classmate PC has a feature called "palm rejection," which
allows a student to lean on the notebook and write without interference.
The goal of these and other features is to allow students to
have more flexibility when it comes to taking their laptops outside of the
classroom and away from their desks.
"When we were in classrooms watching kids and seeing how
kids and teachers interact and how students and students interact, we noticed
that kids would pick up their laptops and go to a corner or go outside to work
on a science experiment," said Jeffrey Galinovsky, a regional
manager for Intel's Classmate PC Ecosystem. "With the clamshell design, that
sometimes became difficult. It wasn't set up for that type of micromobility we
had been talking about. That was one reason to move to the convertible tablet."
When Intel and its OEM partners release the convertible
Classmate PC design in 2009, Intel will also open up its APIs to allow ISVs to
develop applications for the education market and allow third-party developers
to take advantage of the tablet features.
Intel and OEM are also offering a four-cell lithium-ion
battery that offers about four hours of battery life and a six-cell battery
that offers up to six hours of battery life. The traditional clamshell design
offers anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes of extra battery life compared to the
convertible tablet version.
Intel is offering drivers that will allow the Classmate PC design to support
, Galinovsky said that many of the chip maker's OEM partners
will likely wait for the
release of Windows 7 before offering an upgrade from XP.
While a laptop based on the Classmate PC design retails from
$200 to $500 in the United States,
Intel does not offer a specific price for these notebooks. The convertible
design is expected to cost a little more than the traditional design.
Besides the new tablet Classmate PC design, Intel is
planning to talk about a new initiative that will begin to take shape in 2009
called the Intel Learning Series, which will bring hardware, software and
services together as an overall offering for schools and governments interested
in adopting the technology.